Our afternoon tea tradition

My best friend from high school, Marylisa, and I have a tradition of trying new places for afternoon tea. We have been to many places for afternoon tea together. In the San Fernando Valley, there was a place called “The Guilded Rose”. It was a purple house and inside it was like an English cottage. They served afternoon tea and that was always our place to go. Unfortunately, they closed down and that is when we started looking for other places to go for afternoon tea. The places we have tried in the past were the Huntington Library, the Four Seasons, the Chado Tea Room and the Elle C Garden Cafe in Santa Clarita.

Cute tea cup and saucer

This year we tried the Madeline Garden Bistro in Pasadena. This restaurant had a very European feel to it because of it’s decor and atmosphere. It was tres chic.  We ordered the Royal afternoon tea and it was very different than the usual tea sandwiches,  scones and dessert. This tea offered a soup or salad, a hot tier, a cold tier, scones and dessert. For my tea, I ordered Earl Grey. That was unusual for me because I usually like to order teas that I haven’t tried before and that have an unusual combination. I still enjoyed it and as usual, I added milk and sugar to my tea. Delicious.

The first course came out and it was actually the scones. We ended up saving that for later and then our soup and salad came out. I chose the tomato soup.

You say tomato, I say tomato…soup

Then the tiers came out. The first tier was the hot tier which included steak, potatoes au gratin, a hot crab salad and shrimp.

the hot tier

We started on the hot tier, of course. Then the next tier was the cold tier.

so cold

This tier included the tea sandwiches that I always look forward to. The sandwiches that were included in this tier were the salmon and butter tea sandwich and the  cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwich. There was also a caprese salad skewer and a shrimp cocktail.

Since we saved our scone for later, after our cold tier, we decided to eat our scone with the clotted cream and jam. The waiter said it was a Christmas scone so it had pieces of dried fruit in it, like a Christmas fruitcake.  It was pretty good.

The dessert tier was next. It was very elegant. It had creme brulee, a macaroon and a chocolate brownie with frosting and peppermint sprinkles on top.

I really enjoyed this experience. I liked the European decor. Our table was set nicely. We sat on elegant couches with cute fluffy pillows. On this day, there was a guitarist playing music in the background. I would definitely go here again. They also serve tapas and champagne brunch. They have very good service and are very friendly and accommodating.  Interestingly, our royal afternoon tea came with champagne but our waiter forgot to give it to us. They apologized and gave us a discount on our bill. I think it would have been fun to drink champagne with a high tea. I will try that next time.

Chado Tea Room in Pasadena

My friend and I visited the Chado Tea Room in PasadenaWe have been to many tea rooms through the years. It’s one of our favorite things to do!

The Chado Tea Room in Pasadena is located at 79 N. Raymond. They are open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We made reservations before hand, which is highly recommended as it  seems to be a popular spot and it gets very busy.

A Groupon for chocolate and tea tasting brought us in. But we were also hungry for lunch so we ordered food. They offer soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts. They also offer vegetarian choices. I chose the Punjab sandwich which consists of eggs marinated in their lapsang souchong smoked tea then combined with mayonnaise and green onions. The bread was toasted and the crusts were cut off (awwww….). It was super delicious. I also ordered a tomato basil soup, which was also vegetarian. My friend ordered the afternoon tea. It came with four half sandwiches (four different kinds), one scone with homemade cream and fresh fruit, and a dessert. It was presented on a three tier rack. And of course, it also included a pot of tea.

We were told that they have about 400 teas. The tea menu was a book. I mean, really, it was a book. I chose a chai tea called Brendan’s Chai which is an Assam Black tea blended with ginger, cinnamon, lemon grass. It was creamy, rich and delicious.

The service was great! Our waiter was very knowledgable about the teas and attentive. Before our chocolates and teas came out, our waiter brought out a strawberry display tea. A display tea is just that…a display tea… although you can drink it too. You watch your tea flower bloom while it is steeping. A wonderful 5 minute show. Tea leaves that were bunched together in a little ball were placed in a glass tea kettle with hot water. The leaves unfurl to create a flower creation.

I took pictures of the display tea unblooming in 1 minute increments. Watch!

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Then our teas and chocolates came out. We were offered three more teas in addition to the display tea. The teas are meant to be paired with the chocolates. We tried a chai tea, a green tea and a pomegranate tea. The pomegranate tea was my favorite. It really brought out the taste of the chocolate.

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They also have beautiful tea cups, tea pots and delicious tea leaves, including blooming teas in tins for sale. It’s a very relaxing environment. I suggest that if you make a visit there, that you plan two hours of your time so that you can relax and unwind. 

You can valet park, park in public parking with the first 90 minutes free or you can park at the meters. That’s what I did. 2 hours of metered parking cost a total of $2.50.

The Chado Tea Room was a great place to visit. We plan to go again. Sandwiches, chocolates and tea? Can’t go wrong with that combination.

Today I am grateful for traditions with friends and afternoon tea with my friend, Marylisa

“Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!”― Agatha Christie

“But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.”
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park